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Hammond firefighter reflects on 50 years of service

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HAMMOND — Daniel L. Bickelhaupt still remembers being a rookie with the Hammond Fire Department more than 50 years ago.

The department recently stirred up his memories. He was presented the 50-year service award Saturday at the department’s annual banquet at the Gran-View Restaurant, Ogdensburg.

When he started, there were no dispatchers, and fires were fought with water-filled milk cans.

“Milk trucks would go around to each of the farmers to fill up the milk cans before they brought them to the scene,” Mr. Bickelhaupt said. “A lot has changed since then.”

Like his son and grandsons, Mr. Bickelhaupt joined because his father, Herschel H. Bickelhaupt, was a member.

“It’s like the family business,” he said. “I grew up with it. My father served right up until he died at the age of 77.”

During his time in the department, Mr. Bickelhaupt was instrumental in establishing the first responders in the 1980s, which later became the rescue squad. Mr. Bickelhaupt also served the department as chief from 1982 to 1986 and from 1996 to 1997. But he said he is most proud of passing on the family tradition.

Mr. Bickelhaupt’s grandson Cody A. joined the department a month after his 18th birthday. Mr. Bickelhaupt’s other grandson, Adam L., plans to join when he turns 18 this year.

“It makes me feel proud,” he said. “I was the youngest in the department when I joined up, and so was my grandson.”

Mr. Bickelhaupt’s son, Leonard D., presented him with the award.

“As far as I know, he is the second one to do it in Hammond. We’re really proud of him,” Leonard Bickelhaupt said.

Mr. Bickelhaupt said he dedicates his award to his father, who died three years before he was set to receive his 50-year service award.

“He would have wanted to see it,” he said. “He was able to see me become chief. He served under me for three months before he died.”

For as long as his health permits, Mr. Bickelhaupt said, he looks to continue the family tradition and set an example for his grandsons. He is still a member of the department and serves as fire commissioner in Brier Hill.

“I’ve seen my share of fatalities and fires,” Mr. Bickelhaupt said. “But I have loved my time in the department. It’s like a family. We’ve all laughed and cried together.”

Other department members were also honored Saturday.

The 25-year service award went to Rodney Bertram.

Fifteen-year service awards went to Art Howie and Scott Kron.

Five-year service awards went to Troy Arquitt and Chad Cunningham.

The Firefighter of the Year Award went to Cody Bickelhaupt.

The EMS Provider of the Year Award went to Scott Kron and Sam Martin.

Chief’s Awards went to Cody Bickelhaupt and Todd Youngs.

The Fran Boland Award went to Steve Trenton.

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